People walk across the narrow footbridge suspended across a river canyon. (AP/Sergio Azenha)

People walk across the narrow footbridge suspended across a river canyon. (AP/Sergio Azenha)

The bridge wobbles and sways when people walk on it. (AP/Sergio Azenha)

The bridge wobbles and sways when people walk on it. (AP/Sergio Azenha)

The Paiva River flows far below the bridge. (AP/Sergio Azenha)

The Paiva River flows far below the bridge. (AP/Sergio Azenha)

Visitors can see the view through the metal walkway and railings. (AP/Sergio Azenha)

Visitors can see the view through the metal walkway and railings. (AP/Sergio Azenha)

It is the longest footbridge in the world. The builders hope it will bring tourists to the area. (AP/Sergio Azenha)

It is the longest footbridge in the world. The builders hope it will bring tourists to the area. (AP/Sergio Azenha)

Wobbly Bridge Wows

Posted: July 1, 2021

A new bridge in Portugal is not for the faint hearted. In fact, children under six years old are not even allowed on this bridge! Take a deep breath before looking down from 574 feet in the air. The Arouca Bridge hangs across a roaring river. That river is far below in a canyon. The suspension bridge wobbles when people walk across it. It is now the world’s longest pedestrian (walker) bridge.

The Arouca Bridge spans almost 1,700 feet from one side of the canyon to the other. The metal walkway grid is easy to see through. That can be frightening! The walkway hangs from two steel cables that run to tall towers on either end of the bridge. More than 500 feet below, the Paiva River flows through a waterfall.  

The town of Arouca is north of Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. Gutsy local residents got to walk across the bridge in May. Many were thrilled. Others admitted that it was unnerving to stroll across the wiggly sky bridge. They held on tight!

According to the Guinness World Records website, the former world’s longest suspension bridge for pedestrians is in Japan. It is the 1,280-foot-long Kokonoe Yume Bridge. That bridge opened in 2006. In 2017, the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge in the Swiss Alps broke the record. It spans 1,621 feet. How much longer is Portugal’s new pedestrian walkway? The Arouca Bridge is almost 79 feet longer! 

Portugal spent $2.8 million dollars to build the breathtaking bridge. Suspension bridges make it possible to cross long open spaces. They don’t require as much material as bridges that are built from the ground up. They also sway. Though scary, that’s good design. The swaying helps in high winds and even earthquakes! Solid bridges might break under those conditions.

In a lush canyon like the one in Arouca, a suspension bridge lets pedestrians enjoy a birds-eye view of God’s beautiful creation. Psalm 104:8 says, “The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them.”